New Year Resolutions

Do you make them?   Only at New Year or do other times of the year (warmer, less pressured) offer a better chance of success.   I’ve read a number of articles about resolutions on the internet today and virtually all of them contained dire predictions of resolutions falling by the wayside by February, of the low chances of success.   I think that counts as a self-fulfilling prophecy.   Someone seeking guidance with setting and keeping resolutions will search on the internet and find these articles, which tell them they have a low chance of succeeding and thus, they begin to doubt their own chances of doing so.

Clearly there are right ways and wrong ways of going about setting and achieving goals.   But remember that your own past, or the experiences of others, do not automatically determine your own outcomes this time.   They may point out pitfalls to avoid, weaknesses you may need to address.   But your past does not define you.

These ideas have helped me, feel free to use or adapt them to fit your own life and circumstances.

How much do you want this and why?

Is your goal something you want to do or something you feel you “should” do?   Unless you actually have your own (as opposed to someone else’s) positive reasons for doing something, then it’s easier for motivation to wane, in my experience.   Some goals carry greater external motivators than others, I accept: the long-term health benefits of giving up smoking may mean you “should” do so even if you see cigarettes as a pleasure in life.   For most goals, however, make sure that it’s your goal and not something you feel obligated to do.

Your “why” is the thing which will keep you going when you feel tired, stressed and want to give up.   Why do you want to eat healthily?   Exercise?   Call your family regularly?   Get a qualification?   A new job?   Unless you know why you want something, it’s easy to become distracted from your goal.

Write it down.

Now.   On paper or on a computer document or in an online journal or on Facebook.   Just write it down now and keep it somewhere accessible!   While it’s floating in your mind, it’s competing for attention with the many other facets of your life.   When it’s on a piece of paper, it becomes an object.   It’s tangible.   It’s very presence is a reminder of your “why”.   And while you’re at it….

Write down a plan to get you there.

For the same reason.   Plans floating in your mind are not going to be acted on.   Life will distract you.   Write down each tiny step you need to take to get you to where you want to be.   Writing them down also means you can mark them off as you reach them, a tangible reminder of how far you’ve come.

And if you fail…

Start again.   Now.   If you’ve missed a workout, carry on again tomorrow.   If you’ve eaten or drunk more than you planned, then enjoy the taste and go right back to healthy eating or limiting your alcohol.   If you don’t meet a deadline, just do it as soon as you can.   Missed a class?   Go to the next one.   Making a mistake does not make you a failure, nor is it a reason to give up your goals.   You are still making progress and have achieved more than you would, had you not started at all.   Stay with it.


Time goes by…

If you knew you only had a limited time left, how would you spend it?   I’ve had a bit of a contemplative week, following the death of a neighbor and the serious illness of another friend.   None of us know what’s round the next corner yet I’m conscious that I, for one, can drift through life in a rather blasé and unthinking assumption that “some day” or “one day” I’ll get round to something.


To quote the inspirational picture I’ve seen on the internet, there are 7 days in a week and “some day” and “one day” are not among them!


So what gets in the way?   Not television in my case, as I don’t have one (long story).   But even allowing for internet time, I can spend a lot of time “pottering”, which is pleasant in its own way but not exactly going to help me learn another language, write a book or find a place on a PhD programme.   I have found changing my surroundings can help, going to the university library to work or study, or down to a Costa Coffee, just for some thinking time without the distractions of the house.


Journaling has helped me process my thoughts and come up with ideas.   The act of writing down or telling someone else what’s on your mind really does seem to help in finding my own solutions, I guess that’s why the Samaritans have helped so many people find their answers to far more significant problems in their lives using that approach.


In other news, here is a picture of the snow leopard cubs at Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, out and enjoying the good weather last weekend!